BREAKING NEWS: Zune Discontinued…

I just came in and turned on the TV and was simply surprised by what was on the news. Microsoft have stated that the Zune brand will be discontinued…?!

I have yet to find further information on this on the web as of, since the news itself was a rather “breaking news” too. But according to the report, Microsoft have decided to abandon the brand Zune and have decided to change its media player path so that it’ll be integrated with something mobile; something that will be able to compete against the iPhone. The report has suggested that possibly a this new phone to compete with the upcoming Apple iPhone will not have much to do with the Zune. According to a Microsoft employee, the Zune was simply a way for Microsoft to test the media player water before going in to the media player plus mobile phone market. There has also been reports that the Wi-Fi in this new gadget, unlike the rather useless Wi-Fi from the abandoned Zune project, will instead offer brand new capabilities. While nothing has been confirmed, but it has been said that talks such as wireless syncing with a computer and purchasing games via a Wi-Fi hotspot rather than using the phone browser has been brought up.

Microsoft abandoning the Zune project as a whole… I personally feel pretty betrayed about all this. What was all the talk about firmware updates? What happened to Zune in the future with better Wi-Fi? What happened to all that social? Why did Microsoft dump the whole project which they’ve spent quite a sum of money on already? Why not just release the 2nd generation of the Zune if they feel that the market share isn’t as high as they expected?

More to follow as I find more news on it. I wonder what will happen to the Marketplace and all the Points I’ve already spent on it…

Flash Zune And Enhanced WiFi

Recent news reports from Chris Stephenson have suggested that along with the Zune launch in Europe at Q4, he has also proposed a flash mp3 player based on the Zune platform, along with a massive improvement with the currently limited WiFi late this year or early 2008. What does this mean?

Firstly, we’re looking at a more “lite” version of the Zune. Not everyone needs the 30GB of space that the Zune offers. Personally, I’m using less than 5 GB of my Zune as of, when only counting music. Even when including a few video clips, I only hit the 9.5 GB mark. With Samsung and SanDisk developing larger and larger flash drives, its only a matter of time until we’ll have an affordable 10+ GB flash drive. With such a “smaller” (compared to the current Zune drive) drive and a more affordable one, I’m hoping that the Zune will attract more buyers, thus actually proving their slogan, “Welcome to the social.” Not only that, but flash drive based Zune will be significantly smaller. The current Zune is in some sense, fatty. Fatter than the fattest iPod video. Not too many users are fond of the bulge in their pockets. A slimmer design will definitely make the Zune look slick and actually be a media player that will be able to find its home in a normal sized pocket.

Regarding WiFi, the possibilities are somewhat huge. We’re talking WiFi hotspots, a longer range when finding other Zunes in your local area, a connection with your computer via WiFi, a connection to the Marketplace, etc etc etc. Zune’s WiFi feature was hyped up before November 14, 2006. Currently, it is under heavy criticism due to not only the disappointingly limited WiFi features, but also due to the somewhat massive DRM protection on contents.

Stephenson’s speech is definitely encouraging for Zune users. A flash zune, maybe people will need to dish out more cash if they so do wish, but enhanced WiFi… Hopefully it’ll be implemented through the firmware updates, rather than making it incompatible with Zune generation 1.

Confirmed: Microsoft Will NOT Credit You!

Remember our post about Microsoft crediting you for sharing songs? And then, we had the whole hype knocked out of the picture after Cesar’s post. But, on October 30th, Gizmodo released a PDF file saying that possibly, Microsoft will credit you. So… what’s going on?!

Well… we have an official answer.

As you know, Cesar, the guy that runs Zune Insider stated clearly that such a “credit” will not exist for the Zune as of. But, the guys at Gizmodo came with a PDF file that got us going once again, so I decided, heck, why not ask another that is working with the Zune? Bill Wittress. The man that powers ZuneGuy.

I decided to ask him regarding this “controversy” or a “rumor” you might say. I even gave him the PDF file and pointed him to the Gizmodo page. All he had to say was:

“Still not true. 🙂

(That) Research is an entirely different part of the company.”

Rumor resolved. 😉

Will Zune Suceed In Asia?

Asia is no doubt, the biggest continent in the world. To add on to that, they also have the highest population. Therefore, for Microsoft to suceed and literally “beat” Apple and the iPod, the Asian market is critical to their success. 10 out of 10 people will agree that the iPod was a huge success… except in Asia. No doubt Apple is the “hegemon” when it comes to the portable music industry in regions such as the Americas and Europe. But in Asia? Not as much…

In Asia, the trend has always been the “flash MP3 players” until recently, Samsung, iriver, Cowon, and the likes have begun to produce HDD players. Especially in countries such as China, Japan, and Korea, the yepp’ series (from Samsung) and iriver have been a huge hit. For Zune to actually surpass these “barriers” in the Asian market, it is critical for them to excel in the following areas. We’ll compare them to two major companies based in Korea; Samsung yepp’ and iriver.

1. Design

If the Zune were to ever suceed in Asia, they will need to somehow have a design that should capture the Western and the Eastern eyes. While Apple may have had success with the Western eyes, they certainly didn’t with the Eastern. Samsung and iriver have produced masterpieces to “outplay” Apple in regard to designs, in the Asian market. Although the first generation of Zune resembles the iPod in many ways, for Microsoft to really be successful in the long run, a variation will be required sooner or later.

2. Features

Something that iPod also have not yet reached the level of companies in Asia. Samsung and iriver showcase new designs nearly every year. Not only that, the featuers in every generation of players improve significantly. First off, a color LCD panel was introduced before Apple even had the idea of a Video (Colored) iPod. Thankfully, Zune is starting out with color. That’s great! 🙂 Something that definately puts Zune somewhere at least. But now, the Asian companies have stepped up another level. While the Zune will have an FM transmitter, it is something that Samsung and iriver have already accomplished since their early generation of players. Now, they are supporting DMBs. Not only that, Samsung’s latest player, YP-T9, supports flash gaming (although the iPod has Bejeweled) and the clarity in the panel is twice as good as the former player, T8. For the Zune to surpass these competition in the Asian market, an upgrade in the features will be necessary in the second generation. As of? The features are slightly ahead of Apple, but uncomparable yet, to yepp’ and iriver.

3. Battery Life

Battery life is critical. Remember iPod? Battery going dead after about a year, sending it to Apple to have it changed or do it yourself, etc. The iPod supports up to 20 hours of audio playing while, but the Zune only supports 12 hours of music and 3.5 hours of video! This isn’t even close to iPod, nor is it to yepp’ 30 hours of battery life and iriver’s 32 hours of audio time. This is something that Microsoft will need to improve if they are to truly compete.

That was all on why Zune will have a hard time suceeding in Asia. Now for some more positive news on how Zune may suceed.

1. Microsoft

Apple isn’t as popular of an OS in Asia compared to Microsoft. Apple simply doesn’t support as much languages since their earlier computers, which is why Microsoft is simply more popular in Asian homes. Also, Asia has a huge gaming population, which is also the reason why Microsoft Windows OS is more widely used. The brand name, Microsoft, will help in some sales in Asia for the Zune.

2. Community

If the majority of the U.S. population has a MySpace account, many Asians have a Cyworld international account or is part of some sort of a social networking. The idea that Microsoft has with the Zune being a social networking player, will be quite a hit. This is something that iPod and other Asian based companies have not yet accomplished. The idea of sharing music without the need for another gateway (P2P, torrents, etc.) will become popular quickly. This isn’t only for Asians though of course, as it’ll surely be a hit in the Western market too.

Will the Zune suceed in Asia? The above 5 points are just some points comparing the Zune to other products in Asia. Only time will truly tell though, on whether the Zune will suceed or not in the Asia market.